Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Impromptu Mid-Winter Bike Ride, part un

The Bike Me DC meetup group held an impromptu mid-winter bike ride from the Alexandria Marina down to Mount Vernon. I'd never been to Mount Vernon (or the marina for that matter) and jumped at the chance to see new sights and sites.

Alexandria Marina
I miscalculated how terrible traffic would be -- not at all terrible, in fact -- and wound up arriving half an hour before everybody else. Ah well. When the six other participants arrived, many of them complained about the cold. Buh? It was mid- to upper 40s which is poifect! Once we got moving, everybody was fine.

My camera, on the other hand, was not fine and I have no photos from the outbound leg of the trip. It was, however, exciting to see the bottom end of the Mount Vernon Trail, even if it was clogged with pedestrians. At one point, our fearless leader decided to cross the GW Parkway and ride through wide open neighborhood streets. My heart leapt into my throat and my brain screamed cyclists DIE crossing the GW Parkway!!! Obviously -- I hope it's obvious -- I did not perish while crossing the road nor did any of the other cyclists in our group.

I did nearly kick the bucket while climbing one of the hills through the neighborhood. I have no idea what street we were on and was completely lost, but I did not get off my bike to push. I used the granniest of granny gears, stopped halfway up the hill to gulp air and keep my heart from exploding, and finally made it to the top where the group had patiently waited for me. We eventually returned to the trail and our fearless leader warned us about the hills and switchbacks and blind corners ahead. He told us all it was good gearing practice. I dead-panned, "I didn't know there was going to be a test on this ride."

We survived the switchbacks, and thank goodness for his warning! If I'd been flying along that end of the trail by myself, I would have most likely sailed off of the trail and into the woods faaaaar below. After climbing and climbing and climbing, we finally made it to the end of the trail and the parking lot of Mount Vernon. I was the only one who hadn't seen the grounds and everybody else had to get back home for some reason or another and we parted ways. I didn't actually tour the grounds as I'd forgotten my lock and I didn't feel like renting one. After a quick lunch of a banana and a Honey Stinger Waffle, I turned my bike around and headed back north.

To be continued...


  1. The hill you rode on is on Park Terrace Drive. I ride down it every morning and easily hit 30 miles per hour.

    I can't believe this is your first time on the MVT! I first rode in in the 1980s when it was much twistier and had another whopper of a switchback at Mount Vernon.

    You should try it again when the trees have leafed. It's really beautiful. If you keep your eyes open, you might even see a bald eagle or two.

  2. It was my first time on that end. I've ridden from Custis to Gravelly Point once and from Gravelly Point to the 14th Street Bridge a couple of times. I'm way out in Sterling so it takes a bit of planning to get so far south. :)

  3. Ah, the hills... my arch nemesis! Sounds like you managed them though, so my hats off to you! :O)

    BTW, I love the photo you did include... makes me miss summer time.

  4. Happily, hills are getting easier. Just a couple of months ago, I would have been off the bike and walking up that hill. I guess there's something positive about living near the foothills of the Appalachians. ;)

    Thanks. I remembered that my phone has a decent enough camera and took photos along the way back to the starting point. I didn't use it while in motion for fear of dropping it. My real camera has a wrist strap so I don't worry about losing it.

    As far as seasons go, it was 70 degrees yesterday. SEVENTY! We got our snow on Halloween and have gone straight on into spring.